In a public box

Day one of the impeachment hearings.

I’ve just realized, partly because of something Schiff said in his opening statement and partly because/while reading in the Guardian’s live coverage

Echoing his closed-door testimony, Bill Taylor said in his opening statement that he was told “everything” Ukraine sought, including a White House visit and the frozen military aid, was tied to a public announcement of investigations into Joe Biden and the 2016 election.

…that all this and more is going to come out and be nailed down and in the record, and if then nothing happens, we’ll be on the record as knowing all this and nailing it down and then saying no problem.

I know that’s obvious, we’ve all known that all along, but it became that bit clearer to me somehow. We’re going to document crime after crime after crime and be helpless to do anything, including even preventing new crimes. We’ll be nailing down the powerlessness to act along with the crimes. It has to be done, but…it’s sickening.

The acting US ambassador to Ukraine said of a conversation he had in early September, “Ambassador Sondland also told me that he now recognized that he had made a mistake by earlier telling Ukrainian officials that only a White House meeting with President Zelenskyy was dependent on a public announcement of investigations—in fact, Ambassador Sondland said, ‘everything’ was dependent on such an announcement, including security assistance.

“He said that President Trump wanted President Zelenskyy ‘in a public box’ by making a public statement about ordering such investigations.”

Could he sound any more like a hoodlum from a Warner Brothers movie from the 30s? Cagney and Robinson and Bogart all rolled into one?

New testimony is that a staffer overheard Trump on the phone asking about the “investigations” the day after the “perfect” phone call.

Here is Bill Taylor’s full account of his staffer overhearing Trump asking about “investigations” in Ukraine, which the longtime diplomat just shared with the House intelligence committee:

“Last Friday, a member of my staff told me of events that occurred on July 26. While Ambassador Volker and I visited the front, this member of my staff accompanied Ambassador Sondland. Ambassador Sondland met with [a senior adviser to the Ukrainian president, Mr. Yermak]. Following that meeting, in the presence of my staff at a restaurant, Ambassador Sondland called President Trump and told him of his meetings in Kyiv.

“The member of my staff could hear President Trump on the phone, asking Ambassador Sondland about ‘the investigations.’ Ambassador Sondland told President Trump that the Ukrainians were ready to move forward.

“Following the call with President Trump, the member of my staff asked Ambassador Sondland what President Trump thought about Ukraine. Ambassador Sondland responded that President Trump cares more about the investigations of Biden, which Giuliani was pressing for.”

I don’t know what the “front” is that Taylor and Volker were visiting, but the import of the phone call is clear enough.

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